The structure of the coastal density front at the outflow of Long Island Sound during spring 2002

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South of the eastern end of Long Island (Montauk Point) along the Eastern U.S. coast, a coastal density front forms between the buoyant outflow plume of the Long Island Sound (LIS) and the denser shelf waters offshore. During a 2-day cruise in April 2002, measurements of the density and velocity structure of this front were obtained from high-resolution CTD and ADCP data. Transects show the front intersecting the bottom inshore of the 30 m isobath and shoaling offshore. Variability in the location of the front is small offshore of the 40 m isobath, yet tidal excursions of the front along the bottom are significant (5 km) inshore of this depth. The frontal structure of the LIS plume was similar to observations of bottom-trapped coastal density fronts and shelf break fronts. A coastal jet in the along front direction was the main feature of the mean velocity field and was found to be in thermal wind balance with the mean density field. Stronger than expected offshore velocities near the surface, most likely a result of wind forcing, were the only exception to these similarities. In addition, analysis of temperature and salinity gradients along isopycnals gives evidence of secondary cross-frontal circulation and detachment of the bottom boundary layer. Characteristics of the LIS plume are used to evaluate recent analytical models of bottom-trapped coastal density fronts and bottom-advected plume theory, finding good agreement. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Continental Shelf Research